Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jun mo. Jun mo Wonders, “How was the boy scout is made up?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jun mo!

What do you think of when you hear the words “scout”? If you’re like many people, certain images may come to mind. This may include tents, campfires, hikes in the woods, and merit badges. You might picture young kids learning the basics of good citizenship.

But what about spies? Most people probably don’t think about espionage when they hear “scout.” But maybe they should! After all, the man responsible for starting the Boy Scouts was a British spy named Robert Baden-Powell.

Baden-Powell worked as an intelligence officer for the British Army in Malta. As an undercover spy, he often needed to disguise himself. He did so by pretending to be an entomologist studying butterflies.

He became known for his ability to hide secret information in drawings of insects. For example, the patterns on a butterfly’s wings could be used to transmit information about the elevation contours of an area to be invaded.

While stationed in India, Baden-Powell became dismayed. He realized most of the people under his command did not know basic first aid. They also didn’t know how to survive in the wilderness. To teach them basic frontier skills, Baden-Powell wrote a small handbook called “Aids to Scouting.”

Years later, Baden-Powell returned to England. There, he discovered that his handbook had become popular among young boys. They used it to play a game they called scouting. Kids loved the lessons about tracking and observation.

In August 1907, Baden-Powell took a group of boys to Brownsea Island off the southern coast of England. Over the course of a couple of weeks, he taught them how to camp. He also taught them basic survival skills and fun games. This experiment would form the groundwork for what would become the Boy Scouts.

Baden-Powell published a new book, “Scouting for Boys,” in 1908. By the end of that year, over 10,000 Boy Scouts attended a rally at the Crystal Palace in London. Thousands more joined Boy Scout groups all over England.

At the same time, similar organizations grew in the United States. But the Boy Scouts of America would not officially begin until Chicago businessman William D. Boyce would have a chance encounter in England.

While on business in England, Boyce got lost in the fog. A young boy came to his rescue. When Boyce tried to tip him for his help, the boy refused. He explained that he was a Boy Scout who couldn’t accept payment for a simple good deed.

Boyce was impressed. He learned all about scouting, including meeting Baden-Powell himself. Upon his return to the U.S., he incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.

Today, you don’t have to be a boy to be in the Scouts! Since 2017, it has welcomed children of all genders. It also ended its decades-long ban on gay children in 2013. Millions of kids and adult volunteers are involved in the Scouts, now.

Do you enjoy the great outdoors? Do you like learning new skills and crafts? If so, the Scouts could be the right place for you. Kids also have opportunities to take part in similar activities through the Girl Scouts, Navigators USA, and SpiralScouts International.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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